County concerned with Clintonville proposal
By Bert Lehman
The city of Clintonville will conduct more research about having a walking and biking path added to County Trunk I when the road is repaved.
The issue of a walking and biking path on County I was first brought to the council’s attention during the public comments portion of the May 12 council meeting. Dennis Lichtenberg said County I is scheduled to be repaved next year, and he made a request to the county to add pavement to the north side of the road from Highway 45 to the railroad bed.
He told the council that Dean Steingraber, highway commissioner for Waupaca County, requested that the city send a letter of support and details for the project.
Lichtenberg also requested the issue be placed on the agenda for the June city council meeting.
The issue wasn’t on the June agenda, but Lichtenberg again spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting.
He read a letter in support of adding pavement to County I for a walking and biking path. He recommended the council send the letter to the county.
Lichtenberg said safety is one of the reasons a walking and bike path is needed.
“Over the years, living alongside County Road I, I’ve seen the need for a walking lane along there,” he said.
He said the road is currently 11 feet on both sides, while other county roads in the area are 12 feet on both sides. He also cited farm traffic on the road.
“There’s no way you can walk or bike on that road when a car is coming by, much less a truck or a tractor,” Lichtenberg said.
Around 70 residents live near Ginger Spur Road, and a lot of those residents use County I to walk to the commercial areas along State Highway 45, he added.
“If you don’t do it now, it will probably never get done,” he said.
He also said some residents don’t walk on County I because of safety concerns.
“The addition with a two-foot, paved biking/walking lanes with a white separation strip on it would provide the opportunity to improve the safety for residents using the road in this area to bike or walk,” Lichtenberg said.
Since the issue wasn’t on the agenda, the council could not discuss the matter at the meeting.
When the Street Committee met on July 7, interim City Administrator Chuck Kell updated the committee about what he found out when speaking with Steingraber.
Since County I is scheduled to be repaved and not reconstructed, the county wasn’t planning to add more to the road than is already there.
The request for a walking and biking path also doesn’t follow guidelines in the Transit Development Manual which covers rural paved shoulders, Kell said.
“At a minimum, they recommend three-foot paved shoulders,” Kell said. “That’s if the road isn’t being reconstructed, that’s just adding to the existing surface.”
For reconstructed roads, Kell said the recommendation is five feet of paved shoulder.
Kell said Steingraber was concerned about the county’s liability if it added just two feet of pavement to the road.
“That’s one reason they didn’t propose to do this,” Kell said.
Kell said Steingraber was also concerned about the precedent doing the project would set.
The county would also ask the city to pay for the project, Kell said. A rough estimate for the project was $26,000 for the paved walking path.
Adding the walking path could be considered in the future if the road is reconstructed, but since the road is scheduled to only be repaved, the county has no intention of adding a walking path, Kell said.
“I kind of feel like the city is going to be in a somewhat adversarial [position] with the county based on what their plans are,” Kell said.
Kell also told the committee that the county previously sought city input regarding the road but didn’t receive any.
July council meeting
The issue was placed on the agenda for the July council meeting. Kell provided the council with the same information that he provided the Street Committee the prior week.
Kell added that based on the information he has received he recommended the city not endorse the request.
Lichtenberg was in attendance and was allowed to address the council. He reiterated that this is a safety issue.
“To sit here and say we can’t do this, this is a safety issue waiting to happen,” Lichtenberg said.
Lichtenberg said the three feet minimum in the Transit Development Manual referred to state highways, not county roads.
He said the request could have been for three feet, but they kept it to two feet because of the cost.
Lichtenberg said he has been working with Steingraber for two years regarding County I.
“I would ask at this point because there’s confusion in cost, and this is not new, I would like to see the county, the town, and the city to work together and come to a decision that’s reasonable,” Lichtenberg said.
He recommended the council not vote on the issue until some things are clarified.
The council unanimously approved postponing a vote on the issue until the August meeting when more information is available.
Kell recommended inviting Steingraber to the meeting when it is discussed.